DePauk Family Photographs in Van Nuys: 1940s and 50s


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I had published some of these a few years ago, photographs sent to me by Philip DePauk, a one-time resident of Van Nuys who now lives in Virginia. His family owned a photo studio on Gilmore near Van Nuys Boulevard and his father and uncle also worked for a Ford dealership located here.

These images are both stunning and sad, sad for the lost way of life that once existed here, a gentle place where orange groves and endless vistas promised opportunities and happiness in a state where agriculture, industry and education were all advanced and the envy of the world.

Modern people often dismiss the past by citing the prejudices of that era. Women who could not work. Gays who could not marry. Japanese rounded up during WWII. Blacks and Hispanics who were relegated to ghettos, kept out of the workplace, discriminated against in every sense of the word. These were all bad aspects of law and custom thankfully banished.

Yet our landscape, moral and cultural, is degraded worse today.  This I believe.

This is our present.

Photo by Malingering.

Photo by Malingering.

Photo by Malingering

Photo by Malingering

Photo Credits: Malingering

Living as we do now, in a completely tolerant California, are we not victimized, all of us, by the crude violence, the grossness of language, the vulgarity of dress, the assault of trashy behavior, that demeans all of us?  We live in a Van Nuys that shames us. Some of us react by renaming our neighborhoods Lake Balboa, Sherman Oaks, Valley Glen.  Others just flee by moving away, abandoning Van Nuys Boulevard, crawling deeper into our digital drugs, withdrawing from human interaction which is often uncivilized and often barbaric.

One small example….

On my street, I often see cars parked in the shade. When the drivers move on, what’s left behind are fast food wrappers, cans, and bottles in the gutter.   And at LA Fitness, going to my morning workout,  I see a parking lot littered with junk food from last night’s fitness members.  At the alley next to SavOn, people urinate in broad daylight. Prostitutes walk the street.  And these are just examples of our less violent behavior.

Where is our respect for ourselves and for each other?


 

Serbers Foods. Hatteras and VNB. This building stood until 2014.

Serbers Foods. Hatteras and VNB. This building stood until 2014.

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1949 snowfall.

1949 snowfall.

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In the DePauk Family, typical of that time period, there is a certain modesty to behavior.  There is no “attitude” just hard working, well groomed people who conduct themselves with some decorum.

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And for the generation whose lives were tempered and toughened by the Great Depression and World War Two, a flooding street was a good photo, not a moment for an emotional breakdown and an online fit of anger.

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Flooding in Van Nuys, early 1950s.

Flooding in Van Nuys, early 1950s.

The one negative photo in this set, in my mind, is the widening of Victory Boulevard (1954) and the cutting down of trees that once lined the street. For this act of civic “improvement” spelled the end of civilized Van Nuys, making the hot streets hotter, the speeding cars faster, the abandonment of walkable and neighborhood oriented life lost to the automobile.

Widening of Victory Boulevard: 1954.

Widening of Victory Boulevard: 1954.

 

 

“Hi, Neighbor” Queen Candidates: May 4, 1951


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Officiating at a beauty contest: actor William Demarest who became “Uncle Charlie” on TV’s My Three Sons (1960-72)

“Hi Neighbor” queen candidates at Valley Municipal Building in Van Nuys, CA, May 4, 1951.

Actor William Demarest, Marlene Morrison, Janet Samprenant, Marine Sergeant Bob Fowler.

(Photo: USC Digital Archives)

Van Nuys: 1926


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At the corner of 15856 Sherman Way , Van Nuys, 1926.

Wagner-Thoreson appears to be a real estate broker and they are offering one property, a 3-bedroom house at $2350 and another sign advertises 7.5% terms with $1,050 down.

This area today is west of the 405, and just east of Van Nuys Airport.

Photo: USC Digital Archives/ Dick Whittington Collection

Van Nuys Boulevard Cruising: Early 1970s


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Richard McCloskey’s images of Van Nuys Boulevard in the early 1970s, the cruising and the cars, is now for sale at Art Prints.

The photos show young people having a good time while hanging out, congregating on the street, and in the shopping center, which still stands next to Gelson’s on Van Nuys Boulevard.

Cruising, as Kevin Roderick in LA Observed explains, “began before World War II, spread across LA with the car culture of the 1950s and 60s, crested when the baby boomer hordes were at their most numerous and bored, and finally faded after the LAPD shut down the boulevard in the 1980s.”

The GM plant in Panorama City (1947-1991) built many of the cars that roamed the street. It paid its workers well, who in turn bought cars and produced children to drive them.

The cars were fueled by cheap gas (29-33 cents a gallon) which ended after the 1973-74 Arab oil embargo doubled the price of fuel and forced Americans to abandon wasteful muscle cars.

Once the cars were gone, the pretty girls and the gritty guys packed up and went away.

Van Nuys settled into its current state of illegality, drift and decline.

 

Memorial Day: Sawtelle Veterans Home


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Soldiers’ Home, Views of Los Angeles, California, courtesy, California Historical Society, CHS2013.1297.

Courtesy: California Historical Society

Nixon in Panorama City: November 29, 1956


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Not long after VP Richard M. Nixon and his boss, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, won the 1956 election, Nixon and wife Pat toured Southern California.

Introduced by Congressman Edgar W. Hiestand (R), a staunch anti-Communist and a member of the John Birch Society, Nixon spoke to an enthusiastic shopping center crowd under a banner sign which read: “Panorama City Welcomes Dick”.

(Photos courtesy of the USC Digital Archives)

Van Nuys Boulevard, Circa 1940


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From the Department of Water and Power photo archives, comes this photograph of the Norvord Building at  6420 Van Nuys Boulevard, just north of Victory, circa 1940.

Van Nuys Boulevard, before it was widened in 1954, had diagonal parking, as Brand Boulevard in Glendale does today.

In looking at the above photograph, one can see that the 1920s building, had, by 1940, undergone some modernist facade renovations with curved glass at Mode O’Day and streamline signage at Arnold W. Leveen Hardware.  The simple and lovely “Van Nuys Stationary Store” had a discreet sign and an awning to shade the interior from the sun.

Van Nuys Boulevard was a walkable, civilized, clean and prosperous street in the heart of the San Fernando Valley.  Locals shopped here and patronized small businesses who in turn watched over the community.  That was Van Nuys 74 years ago.

And what is it today?